LAHORE: Youth Affairs Minister Rana Mashhood said on Wednesday that the way forward to mainstreaming women, youth and minorities was rooted in having transparent political processes and ensuring that all citizens were treated on an equal footing.
The minister made the remarks at a forum on realising civil and political rights of women and minorities. Speakers at the event stressed the need for comprehensive consultation with stakeholders to improve the representation of women and minorities across elected bodies.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) general secretary IA Rehman lamented the regressive trend in women’s political participation, recalling that two women had contested general seats from the Muslim League’s platform in Lahore during the 1945 elections. The HRCP general secretary called for an end to structural violence against women and urged civil society organisations to revive efforts to improve the political participation of women.
Punjab Youth Parliamentary Caucus Chairperson Vickas Mokal stressed the need for citizens to be more vigilant and hold lawmakers accountable to secure human rights. The young should be seen as partners in the nation’s political development, he added.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Mary Gill said political parties should award five per cent tickets to candidates from religious minorities on general seats. She added that at least five per cent representation of minorities on reserved seats across all legislative assemblies and at the local government level should be guaranteed by law.
Hassan Nasir Mirbahar of Democracy Reporting International (DRI) said that consolidation of democracy required the realisation of rights of all citizens. For this purpose, parliamentarians and civil society needed to work together and the forum provided one with such an opportunity, he said.
The forum also called for an increase in the percentage of seats reserved for women to at least 30 per cent in line with the target set by the United Nations, increasing the representation of women in decision-making positions in political parties, election management and government bodies and the introduction of firm measures to eliminate barring of women from voting.
Speakers also stressed the need for greater political and civic engagement of youth and promotion of platforms for political dialogue among the young as an alternative to banned student unions.
Other lawmakers present on the occasion included Nosheen Ahmed and Shunila Ruth of the PTI, Azma Bokhari, Farah Manzoor and Raheela Hussain of the PML-N.
The event was organised by DRI.